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GS Caltex-biobutanol fuel


SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- GS Caltex Co., South Korea's second-largest refiner, is planning to mass-produce biobutanol, a renewable fuel which is expected to replace gasoline, as early as this year, industry sources said.

Biobutanol, an alternative, renewable fuel produced from biomass such as sugar, starch, straw or wood, can be used as a transportation fuel in vehicles with internal combustion engines without any additional modifications.

GS Caltex built a plant that has a production process to churn out biobutanol from used wood in collaboration with a research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology last year, the sources said.

GS Caltex said that the start of the plant's operation would enable it to provide biobutanol at a price 120 percent lower than the current price of biobutanol, which is three or four times higher per liter than that of gasoline. Gasoline is priced in the 1,900 won (US$1.7) per liter range in South Korea.

The refiner said if the price of gasoline is running high, biobutanol's marketability is very high.

Among four local refiners, GS Caltex and SK Innovation Co. launched their projects to develop biofuels in 2007 and 2008, respectively, with S-Oil Corp. and Hyundai Oil Refinery Co. having not yet begun such projects.

Other overseas biofuel companies like Butamax, a joint venture between BP and DuPont, the United States' Gevo and Britain's Green Biologics are carrying out studies to commercialize biobutanol.

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